Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 36

 October 25, 1999

Issued By:  City Attorney’s Office

 

Whether, upon termination with the City, an individual may provide consulting services to a company that provides parking equipment products, parts and services to the City of San Antonio.

 

An employee in the Aviation Department has asked whether, upon his termination with the City, he may provide consulting services to a company that provides parking equipment products, parts and services to the City of San Antonio.  The following facts are presented:

 

An employee in the Aviation Department is terminating his employment with the City.  In his position as Parking Manager, he has been responsible for managing the municipal airport parking operations.  He has accepted a position with the ABC Company (“ABC”) that provides parking equipment products, parts and services to the City.  Currently, the company is under an annual contract with the Aviation Department to support the Amano parking systems at one of the airport parking lots.  His position with ABC will include consulting, sales, and public relations for the company.

 

The issue is whether the individual may provide consulting, sales, and public relations services to the company given his employment with the City.  The Ethics Code defines a former City employee as “a person whose duties terminate on or after [January 1, 1999].  The employee has terminated his position with the City effective at the end of this month. Once his termination is effective, he is subject to the standards of conduct provided for former city employees. 

 

Former City employees are required to abide by three (3) standards of conduct regarding:  (1) continuing confidentiality; (2) subsequent representation; and (3) interests in discretionary contracts.  These three (3) standards are discussed in detail below.

 

Continuing confidentiality.  As a general rule, a former City employee may not disclose “confidential government information acquired during service as a city . . . employee.  A City employee, however, is not prohibited from disclosing issues that are no longer confidential by law or that report illegal or unethical conduct to the proper authorities.  Therefore, the individual must refrain from disclosing confidential information received in his position as the Aviation’s parking manager.  This includes any information received as a result of his involvement with the City’s contract(s) involving parking operations  Failure to abide by this standard of conduct subjects the former City employee to the penalties as stated in the Code.

 

Subsequent representation.  Part C, Section 2(b) of the Code[1] prohibits a former City employee from representing for compensation anyone other than himself, his spouse or minor children before the City Council, a City board or commission or a City official or employee for two (2) years after termination of his employment with the City.  It further prohibits a former City employee from implying that he is able to influence City action as a result of his former position.

 

Under the facts presented, the individual could not represent ABC for compensation before the Department of Aviation or before the City Council for two (2) years from the date of his termination with the City.  Because ABC is currently under contract with the City, the individual must refrain from any involvement in said contract for a period of two (2) years. The individual is also prohibited from inferring  that he is able to influence the City’s action as a result of his previous position. In other words, the  individual may work for ABC, but may not participate with any city contract for two (2) years.

 

Financial interest in Discretionary Contract or Sale.  Part C, Section 3 of the Code[2] prohibits former City employees from having a financial interest in a contract with the City or its agencies, including SAWS.  Under this section, a former City employee is defined as “any person who, prior to termination of employee status, was required to file a financial disclosure statement.  This includes those individuals who are City officials and who are in executive pay plan status.  Because a City parking manager is not required to file such statement, this section does not apply.

 

SUMMARY

An employee with the Aviation Department, upon termination of his employment with the City, is subject to the standards of conduct regarding:  (1) continuing confidentiality; (2) subsequent representation; and (3) interests in discretionary contracts.  Because his position with the City required him to oversee parking operations for the City’s Aviation Department, including the contract with his prospective employer, the individual may not provide similar services to the company.  To do so would be a violation of the Ethics Code.  In sum, the individual must not represent ABC Company before the City’s Aviation Department or the City Council for a period of two (2) years.
 

FRANK J. GARZA
City
Attorney



[1]   Currently codified in Ethics Code Section 2-56(b)

[2]   Currently codified in Ethics Code Section 2-58